Hospital gets court permission to force mentally ill killer to take medication

Hospital gets court permission to force mentally ill killer to take medication
Don Pacarro
Don Pacarro
Susan Arnett
Susan Arnett

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A mentally ill man committed to the Hawaii State Hospital after he killed his mother and aunt six years ago has been refusing to take his medication. On Tuesday, doctors asked a judge for permission to administer drugs by force, saying Micah White has begun exhibiting bizarre and aggressive behavior.

Doctors at the mental health institution in Kaneohe say White's recent actions include hiding sharp objects in his socks, stepping on another patient's foot, and tying bathroom doors to prevent others from using the bathroom.

A man acquitted of double murder by reason of insanity gave his attorney a warm embrace upon entering the courtroom. But the staff at the Hawaii State Hospital says Micah White is a danger to others, and has refused to take his anti-psychotic and anti-depressant medications on multiple occasions.

"It's apparent from what's occurring now, that they have to force medicate him, that he's not getting better," Don Pacarro, deputy prosecutor, said.

In April 2004, White stabbed his mother and aunt repeatedly, poured gasoline on them and then set them on fire, saying he thought they were vampires.

"Over the past six months, he has engaged in intimidating, provocative, and threatening behaviors," Alan Taniguchi, M.D., hospital staff psychiatrist, said in documents filed in court.

Staffers say when they searched the 26-year-old two months ago, they found "he had concealed four sharp rocks and broken glass in his socks and in a bandana wrapped around his knee."

"To their view, they weren't getting the result of the medication that they needed and the fact that he was missing medication at times, they believed was manifesting itself in certain behavior that they thought was either aggressive or inappropriate," Susan Arnett, deputy public defender, said.

Arnett says mentally ill patients sometimes refuse meds because of debilitating side effects. Ultimately, White did not fight the state's request for a court order allowing the hospital to forcibly administer drugs if it needs to.

"If they can not convince a patient to take the medication orally then, with the court's authority, they can restrain the patient and usually administer it intramuscularly through an injection," his attorney said.

Arnett says the goal is to get him well enough so he's no longer considered a danger and can return to the community.

"I believe that can happen for him," she said. "He has a diagnosed mental illness. There is treatment for that mental illness and the treatment continues to evolve."

Criminal defendants committed to the Hawaii State Hospital can apply for conditional release once a year. So far, White has not made any requests for release.

Copyright 2010 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.